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Moral rules and (non) enforcement

ethics UPB

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58 replies to this topic

#1
square4

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In the UPB book and also on this message board, the idea is often expressed that valid moral rules are always enforceable. Either it is assumed to be true by definition, or it is seen as a logical conclusion. In this post, I will try to show why I think this is not a good idea.

 

A question of definition

In the UPB book, ethics is defined as follows:

In general, we will use the term aesthetics to refer to non-enforceable preferences – universal or personal – while ethics or morality will refer to enforceable preferences.

Similarly, "good" is defined in the UPB book as:

universally preferable and enforceable through violence, such as “don’t murder”

 

with evil being defined as the opposite of this.

 

A problem with these definitions is that they diverge from what is commonly understood to be morality and aesthetics, and this is confusing. Ethics is about what we ought to do. This is a concept separate from enforcement. Aesthetics is about subjective taste, what we consider beautiful etc. It is not morally binding at all. If "being on time" and "not lying" is classified as merely "aesthetically positive", this is a too weak expression to my taste.

 

Another problem is that the definition tries to categorize two behaviors at the same time: 1) the behavior itself, and 2) the reactionary rule-enforcing behavior. Generally, it is not a good idea to categorize two things at the same time. Each of these two behaviors can better be categorized separately as either good, evil, or neutral.

 

Another possible objection to the definition is that it is circular. Behavior is good if it is enforceable. Enforceable means that enforcing is not evil. Enforcing is not evil if a prohibition on this enforcement would be unenforceable. And so on.

 

Does it follow logically?

If it cannot be assumed by definition that moral rules are always enforceable, can it maybe be deduced logically?

 

A moral rule forbids or requires certain behavior. A negative moral rule could be: People ought not do action X. This means that it is universally preferable that people don't do action X. What else can we logically deduce from this? Not much. To help the deduction a bit, let's introduce the assumption that the reason for the moral rule is that the effects of action X are really bad. In that case, if the effects of action X are bad, then it cannot be evil to prevent these effects. But enforcement never simply prevents the effects of bad actions to occur. Enforcement always has side effects. In some cases, enforcement has the side effect of physical harm. It does not follow logically, that this would be always acceptable. This is a reason why there are pacifists. The same reasoning applies to the enforcement of positive rules. In addition to this, positive rules have a few extra characteristics that make their enforcement less likely to be allowable and preferable, compared to negative rules.

- Enforcement of a positive rule cannot make sure the required action is done (because of free will, and because physical harm will only impede performing the required action), while enforcement of a negative rule can possibly make sure a forbidden action is stopped.

- It is not possible for a person to fulfill a negative duty as a substitute for someone else, but it might be possible to perform a positive duty as a substitute for someone else, with similar positive effects. If the external positive effects of the action were the reason for the moral rule, then it makes sense to do this.

 

A counter-example to the idea that moral rules are always enforceable, is the requirement of proportionality. Many people believe that enforcement is only allowable if it is not disproportional. It is possible to imagine a situation where evil behavior is not preventable, except by disproportional violence, for example a thief running away with a candy bar. Such a situation could not exist, if indeed enforcement would always be allowable.

 

 

For these reasons, I would say that ethics is a matter distinct from enforceability, although it is a related concept. What would your response be to this argumentation?


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#2
dsayers

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In the UPB book and also on this message board, the idea is often expressed that valid moral rules are always enforceable.

 

I had to stop here to seek clarification. By enforceable, are you talking about defensive force?


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#3
square4

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I had to stop here to seek clarification. By enforceable, are you talking about defensive force?

 

Enforcement sometimes is defensive, sometimes it is partially defensive, sometimes it is not defensive.


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#4
dsayers

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Is force analog? It's either the initiation of the use of force or response to the same as I understand it.


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#5
square4

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Is force analog? It's either the initiation of the use of force or response to the same as I understand it.

 

I have a somewhat different definition of the word defensive. Based on your definition, defensive force means non-initiatory force. Enforcement of a rule can either be initiatory or non-initiatory force(a digital yes or no). How does this relate to the subject of this topic?


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#6
dsayers

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How does clarity relate to a subject?!

 

You say "enforcement of a rule" as if a rule is automatically legitimate. If the rule is the initiation of force, then so would its enforcement be.


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#7
Mike Fleming

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Morality is, largely, a meaningless concept to me.  I certainly don't think you could make moral rules and enforce them.

 

The only rules that should bind people are those rules that people agree to in order that they don't have to provide all their needs and wants themselves.  This will be organised in contracts through a DRO-like system in a free society.

 

If people want to know how to treat others well, treat other people decently, that is great and I am all for it.  But it's not enforceable as far as I can see.  You can't make people nice by using force.  You can however, create nice human beings over time through a system of voluntary interaction.  That voluntary interaction would include, first and foremost the family.  Children have no obligations whatsoever towards their parents.


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#8
dsayers

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Morality is, largely, a meaningless concept to me.  I certainly don't think you could make moral rules and enforce them.

 

You posting this is an exercise is self-ownership. You can't have self-ownership and not have morality, since it's basically an observation of the limits of coexisting self-owned individuals.


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#9
square4

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You say "enforcement of a rule" as if a rule is automatically legitimate. If the rule is the initiation of force, then so would its enforcement be.

  I have never claimed rules are automatically legitimate. The rules I am talking about in this context are moral claims in the form of "you ought to do X", and "you ought not to do Y". These rules themselves, even if they are invalid, are not the initiation of force. If a moral rule is invalid, then its enforcement will be immoral, of course. My point was about valid moral rules. My claim is that if a moral rule is valid, this does not imply that its enforcement will always be moral. Or, stated differently, if enforcement of a rule is wrong, this does not imply the rule is necessarily invalid. Stated in logical formula, this would be: not ( Valid(Rule) ---> Moral(Enforcement(Rule)) )   not ( Immoral(Enforcement(Rule)) ---> Invalid(Rule) ) I would be interested to know whether you and others agree, and if not, what would be your reasons  for disagreement.


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#10
dsayers

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Morality is a lens, not a prescription or a rule book. It tells us that theft, assault, rape, and murder is immoral, not that you ought not to do it. To get from IS immoral to OUGHT not do it, you need the conditional of IF you wish to live a consistent, sustainable, virtuous (and therefore happy) life.

 

If I initiate the use of force against you, I create a debt to you. Defensive force is enforcement of that debt, not enforcement of a "moral rule."


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#11
Mike Fleming

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You can't have self-ownership and not have morality, since it's basically an observation of the limits of coexisting self-owned individuals.

 

What you seem to be talking about is the non-initiation of force or the NAP.

 

Morality?  Moral rules?  These are just things that groups make up to suit themselves.   They are rooted in religion.  I don't see any value in trying to re-define it nor any point in doing so because they were only ever arbitrary.

Morality is a lens, not a prescription or a rule book. It tells us that theft, assault, rape, and murder is immoral, not that you ought not to do it.

 

 

That all stems from the NAP.  But even in a free society there is no way to get everyone to follow the NAP.  The protection agencies will follow that general rule because most people want to be protected from theft, murder, etc and that's what will be most cost-effective.

 

I don't see the point in trying to scientifically prove all this morality stuff.  I don't think it can be.

 

If I initiate the use of force against you, I create a debt to you.  

 

Says who?

 

To put this all another way, Stef himself has said that moral rules were created to serve the leaders.


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#12
square4

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Morality is a lens, not a prescription or a rule book. It tells us that theft, assault, rape, and murder is immoral, not that you ought not to do it. To get from IS immoral to OUGHT not do it, you need the conditional of IF you wish to live a consistent, sustainable, virtuous (and therefore happy) life.

 

If I understand correctly, you are saying that "you ought not commit aggression" is only applicable to those who wish to live a consistent, sustainable, virtuous life. I am surprised and a bit shocked... :ohmy:  We then have a very different conception of ethics. It seems obvious to me that everyone, regardless of their wishes, ought to refrain from evil actions such as murder and rape. Let us consider the victims of crimes and their rights not to be attacked. Their rights imply an "ought" for all others.


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#13
dsayers

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Morality?  Moral rules?  These are just things that groups make up to suit themselves.

 

You make it sound subjective. It is true that many groups interested in controlling people do pretend that morality is subjective. It isn't, as you yourself characterized by talking about the NAP, which is just another way of stating objective morality.

 

Says who?

 

It wouldn't much matter who said or didn't say. It's an observation of reality. This is really important because it's why defensive force is justified.

 

Let us consider the victims of crimes and their rights not to be attacked. Their rights imply an "ought" for all others.

 

You cannot get an ought from an is without a conditional.

 

Their rights do not imply anything, they aide in the interpretation of morality of behaviors. Rape and love making are mechanically identical. A person's rights is how we know that consent is paramount in determining which on intercourse is.


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#14
Phuein

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square4, only addressing your question of proportionality; being practical, if you had a misdeed acted upon you, then what logical course would you take, to mend it?

 

Naturally, the answer varies widely, from emotional responses, to materialistic responses, and maybe some other mystical ideas of revenge.

 

To claim proportionality, when self-defense is at stake, is to excuse the aggressor, and attack the victim! These situations are rare, and are hardly at the heart of any practical philosophy, especially the NAP. Stefan, too, expressed his dislike with extreme situations that deviate from the practical norm. Such situations cannot have well designed solutions, as they are too unstable - not well defined, in reality.


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#15
Robert Rak

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For these reasons, I would say that ethics is a matter distinct from enforceability, although it is a related concept. What would your response be to this argumentation?

 

You are misunderstanding what he means by enforcement. You are thinking of enforcement of ethics, and Stefan is talking about enforcement of preferences. Rape is an enforcement of personal preference, so is self-defense, which makes them moral considerations. Aesthetic preferences are not enforced, so like you said they have nothing to do with morality. I'd recommend reading the section that you quoted again, starting on page 48.

 

 

You posting this is an exercise is self-ownership. You can't have self-ownership and not have morality, since it's basically an observation of the limits of coexisting self-owned individuals.

 

Nice try man but he's a determinist. You can't win. He can counter this by saying that he didn't choose to post anything, it was just a causal product of his environment and history lol. The universe made me do it! Aaagh help me.... the atoms keep moving...


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To make a point of maximizing automatic functioning and minimizing awareness of one's life is to welcome death before its time.


#16
square4

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Morality is a lens, not a prescription or a rule book. It tells us that theft, assault, rape, and murder is immoral, not that you ought not to do it. To get from IS immoral to OUGHT not do it, you need the conditional of IF you wish to live a consistent, sustainable, virtuous (and therefore happy) life.

 

You cannot get an ought from an is without a conditional.

 

Their rights do not imply anything, they aide in the interpretation of morality of behaviors.

 

Adding a conditional does not, in itself, get us closer to or further away from an "ought" in the moral sense of the word. For example, if you want to be a thief, then you ought to steal? No. If you want to be a thief, then you ought to change your mind and refrain from stealing.

 

When we convert what we know into logical propositions, we can only describe the relations between concepts, not the concepts themselves. For example, when we put the fact "John suffers" into a logical system, then as far as logic is concerned, it is equal to "Object X exhibits property Y". Humans, on the other hand, can understand what suffering and joy actually means, and they have the ability of empathy, which is very relevant for the subject of ethics. Consider, for example, an extreme situation where someone is literally tortured by someone else. The victim says: "You are hurting me severely. You ought to stop." The statement of the victim is correct, although he deduced an "ought" from an "is". To say otherwise, would that not amount to moral nihilism?

 

When the "ought not" implication is removed from the concept of immorality, combined with the idea of complete subjectivity of value, the result is this:

- "rights" without the implication of an ought

- "self-ownership" without the implication that we ought to respect it

- "good" that is not objectively valuable, "evil" without negative objective value

- "immoral" without the implication that we ought not do it

It makes no sense to me.

 

What do you mean by "virtue", if it is not morally required (no ought), not objectively valuable, and not universally preferable?

 

There are many logically consistent ways to categorize human action, or the subset of human action that is the enforcement of a preference. We can categorize it based on whether or not it is the initiation of force, whether or not it raises the aggregate life expectancy of humans, whether or not it raises CO2 emission. This categorization based on the initiation of force, what sets it apart from all other categorizations? What is the relevance of it, apart from an exercise in logical consistency? That it tells us what is immoral? But what is "immoral" according to your definition? Not in the sense of how we determine it, but what it is. It would be helpful if such concepts were clearly defined.


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#17
dsayers

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If you want to be a thief, then you ought to change your mind and refrain from stealing.

 

How would that aide in your pursuit of being a thief? That would make you a terrible thief.

 

As for the rest, I don't know what you're talking about. John suffers, CO2 emissions... there's no need to obfuscate. Or to keep it relevant: If you wish to communicate effectively, then you ought to keep it relevant and concise.


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#18
Robert Rak

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Adding a conditional does not, in itself, get us closer to or further away from an "ought" in the moral sense of the word.

 

It does actually; In fact it's required. Without the conditional (goal, in other words) you give up any hope of your 'ought' being objective, and subsequently, moral. 

 

For example, if you want to be a thief, then you ought to steal? No.

 

Well logically, you can't be a thief if you don't. So if your goal is to be one, then in fact, you ought to steal.

 

Humans, on the other hand, can understand what suffering and joy actually means, and they have the ability of empathy, which is very relevant for the subject of ethics. Consider, for example, an extreme situation where someone is literally tortured by someone else. The victim says: "You are hurting me severely. You ought to stop." The statement of the victim is correct, although he deduced an "ought" from an "is". To say otherwise, would that not amount to moral nihilism?

 

Empathy is about understanding the feelings of others, which has nothing to do with ethics. In your example, the victim is not "correct" in any sense that I can see. The torturer, by the nature of his occupation, must act in complete opposition to the preferences of his victim. 

 

When the "ought not" implication is removed from the concept of immorality, combined with the idea of complete subjectivity of value, the result is this:

- "rights" without the implication of an ought

- "self-ownership" without the implication that we ought to respect it

- "good" that is not objectively valuable, "evil" without negative objective value

- "immoral" without the implication that we ought not do it

It makes no sense to me.

 

What do you mean by "virtue", if it is not morally required (no ought), not objectively valuable, and not universally preferable?

 

Ah now I understand, you are making the mistake of thinking that 'Universally Preferable' means 'Universally Valued'. I did this too when I first discovered UPB, but given that values are subjective this would be a logical contradiction. What it actually means is 'Objectively Required'. See page 32 of UPB for more on this.

 

There are many logically consistent ways to categorize human action, or the subset of human action that is the enforcement of a preference. We can categorize it based on whether or not it is the initiation of force, whether or not it raises the aggregate life expectancy of humans, whether or not it raises CO2 emission. This categorization based on the initiation of force, what sets it apart from all other categorizations? What is the relevance of it, apart from an exercise in logical consistency? That it tells us what is immoral? But what is "immoral" according to your definition? Not in the sense of how we determine it, but what it is. It would be helpful if such concepts were clearly defined.

 

Sorry to be repetitive, but you really need to read UPB once more. :sweat: The whole point of UPB is to evaluate whether some proposed human preference can be universalized, using logic. That's what sets it apart from any other categorization.

 

Immorality is defined as a violation of moral principles, nothing more. I hope that helps somewhat. UPB is fascinating because it is both incredibly simple and intensely difficult to understand. This sounds contradictory but what I mean is that once you get the foundation, the method of application becomes easy; However, the implications permeate like the tendrils of a plant through every aspect of life, and their complexity can short-circuit even a brilliant mind. 

 

I hope you continue to pursue the challenge though, the rewards are well worth the effort.  :)


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To make a point of maximizing automatic functioning and minimizing awareness of one's life is to welcome death before its time.


#19
labmath2

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I tried listening to the UPB audio book and i just got annoyed after a while. UPB is such an obscure concept that it seems to change at every use of it. In some instances it is what people ought to do. In other instances it is contrary to what everyone does. It is hard to understand any of it because there is a lot of language manipulations from the is to ought that makes the entire concept of UPB mind shattering. The whole book boils down to one statement for me, "Thus when I talk about universal preferences, I am talking about what people should prefer, not what they always do prefer." Of course he spends the rest of the book trying to explain why we one thing or the other should be preferred, but it just gets really confusing for me. If i had to sum the whole thing up, i would say he combines Kant's categorical imperative with Locke's property rights.


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"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger


#20
square4

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What it actually means is 'Objectively Required'. See page 32 of UPB for more on this.

For which goal is UPB objectively required? Or is it required regardless of your goals?

 

The whole point of UPB is to evaluate whether some proposed human preference can be universalized, using logic. That's what sets it apart from any other categorization.

 

Every preference can be universalized. The preference to commit aggression against others can be universalized, but it would have very bad effects; it could even cause human extinction. But to call such effects bad, is to invoke a value.

 

Immorality is defined as a violation of moral principles, nothing more.

 

Which principles?


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#21
Robert Rak

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I tried listening to the UPB audio book and i just got annoyed after a while. UPB is such an obscure concept that it seems to change at every use of it. In some instances it is what people ought to do. In other instances it is contrary to what everyone does. It is hard to understand any of it because there is a lot of language manipulations from the is to ought that makes the entire concept of UPB mind shattering. The whole book boils down to one statement for me, "Thus when I talk about universal preferences, I am talking about what people should prefer, not what they always do prefer." Of course he spends the rest of the book trying to explain why we one thing or the other should be preferred, but it just gets really confusing for me. If i had to sum the whole thing up, i would say he combines Kant's categorical imperative with Locke's property rights.

 

I haven't tried the audio book. Honestly the text version is probably a much better choice since this is complicated stuff he is going through. It's much easier when you can review parts that you are unsure of. If you are seeing language manipulations then you aren't reading the same thing as me :) 

 

One of the pillars of UPB is self-ownership, which is very similar to Locke's arguments about property, however, UPB doesn't evaluate categorical imperatives; It has to do with hypothetical ones. (morality is optional)

 

For which goal is UPB objectively required? Or is it required regardless of your goals?

 

Like I said above, it deals with the hypothetical imperatives. In regards to morality that means having the goal of being good.

 

Every preference can be universalized. The preference to commit aggression against others can be universalized, but it would have very bad effects; it could even cause human extinction. But to call such effects bad, is to invoke a value.

 

Are you sure you've read it? Half of the book is devoted to logical arguments proving that you can't....

 

Which principles?

 

Moral principles, such as don't steal, don't kill, etc. 


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To make a point of maximizing automatic functioning and minimizing awareness of one's life is to welcome death before its time.


#22
labmath2

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Like I said above, it deals with the hypothetical imperatives. In regards to morality that means having the goal of being good.

The second statement is circular because morality=good. So in essence it reads like

In regards to morality that means having the goal of being moral. However, if the goal of morality is to be moral, then unless one enjoys being moral, it is a pointless task. It is like saying the goal of peeling potatoes is to have the potatoes peeled, so if one does not enjoy peeling potatoes, one has no reason to peel them.


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"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger


#23
Robert Rak

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The second statement is circular because morality=good. So in essence it reads like

In regards to morality that means having the goal of being moral. However, if the goal of morality is to be moral, then unless one enjoys being moral, it is a pointless task. It is like saying the goal of peeling potatoes is to have the potatoes peeled, so if one does not enjoy peeling potatoes, one has no reason to peel them.

 

Morality means the principles which distinguish between right and wrong. In other words, it doesn't mean goodness or being good, it means the principles that make you good. It's a subtle distinction but yes, if you don't desire to be a good person then it is a pointless task.

 

To fix your analogy, it would be like saying: "If my goal is to peel potatoes, then I should cut them in this particular way and with a knife rather than a fork", or "If my goal is to eat potatoes without the skin, then I should peel them first". You are correct in saying that if you don't like eating potatoes (or prefer them with the skin on) then you have no reason to peel them.

 

The reason your argument seems circular is because you have framed it that way.


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To make a point of maximizing automatic functioning and minimizing awareness of one's life is to welcome death before its time.


#24
labmath2

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Morality means the principles which distinguish between right and wrong. In other words, it doesn't mean goodness or being good, it means the principles that make you good. It's a subtle distinction but yes, if you don't desire to be a good person then it is a pointless task.

 

To fix your analogy, it would be like saying: "If my goal is to peel potatoes, then I should cut them in this particular way and with a knife rather than a fork", or "If my goal is to eat potatoes without the skin, then I should peel them first". You are correct in saying that if you don't like eating potatoes (or prefer them with the skin on) then you have no reason to peel them.

 

The reason your argument seems circular is because you have framed it that way.

 

Good is intrinsically a relative term, so good relative to what? 


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"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger


#25
Robert Rak

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Good is intrinsically a relative term, so good relative to what? 

 

No, it's not relative. If being good was relative there would be no such thing as morality because good would be an opinion. Morality is intrinsically objective since you are talking about principles that apply in a universal way.


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To make a point of maximizing automatic functioning and minimizing awareness of one's life is to welcome death before its time.


#26
labmath2

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No, it's not relative. If being good was relative there would be no such thing as morality because good would be an opinion. Morality is intrinsically objective since you are talking about principles that apply in a universal way.

 

Good is relative in the sense that it depends on some goal or some alternative state. A table is neither good nor bad since it does not exist relative to a goal or has an alternative state. Having only one arm is bad compared to having two arms, but having one arm is good compared to having none. Using the scientific method is good if you are trying to understand nature, but bad if you are trying to be a good christian. Getting a table is good if you want one, but bad if you have no place for it. Good and bad are value judgement and are completely depended on perception so i am pretty sure Good is a relative term. 

 

If something exists objectively, we call it natural law or matter. Applying something universally, i.e human law/morality, does not make it objective, since in the absence of a conscious mind, human mind, it does not exist, and you are compelled to follow it by other humans. Unless you use objective in the sense that it is the current best way to accomplish a task (as far as we know), then yes, it is objective. Or you use objective in a definition sense, i.e. no bachelor is married, then yes it is objective.


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"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger


#27
Robert Rak

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Good is relative in the sense that it depends on some goal or some alternative state. 

 

No, it doesn't. Whether being good or not is your goal does not change whether or not it is objective.

 

A table is neither good nor bad since it does not exist relative to a goal or has an alternative state. 

 

A table has no capacity to be good or bad because a table cannot act freely.

 

Good and bad are value judgement and are completely depended on perception so i am pretty sure Good is a relative term. 

 

You are confusing the adjective good, which describes the desirability of something, with the noun good, which refers to that which is morally righteous.

 

If something exists objectively, we call it natural law or matter.... Applying something universally, i.e human law/morality, does not make it objective, since in the absence of a conscious mind, human mind, it does not exist, and you are compelled to follow it by other humans.

 

So the scientific method or math are not objective then, since they are not natural law or matter, and they are concepts that wouldn't exist without the human mind.

 

 

You may want to rewatch Stefan's Introduction to Philosophy Series in order to refresh yourself, as it does a very good job of covering this stuff. In fact I'm about to watch it again soon.


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To make a point of maximizing automatic functioning and minimizing awareness of one's life is to welcome death before its time.


#28
labmath2

labmath2
  • 273 posts

 

So the scientific method or math are not objective then, since they are not natural law or matter, and they are concepts that wouldn't exist without the human mind.

 

 

Actually yes, the scientific method and math are not objective. They are models, they provide a framework for understanding the real world. In reality you never truly add two apples together, they are ways of conceptualizing and interacting with things in the real world. They are as real as language, which is also a model for conceptualizing thought and interacting with other people in the real world. Morality is an attempt to model what the ideal human behavior should look like, while the social sciences deal with models of what the human behavior does look like. Before the scientific method, people had less effective models of conceptualizing and interacting with the world. The reason i am having such difficult time with mixing of philosophy and science is that we can test science for its accuracy, we just see if it explains things in the real world better than any other theory. With philosophy, anything that contradicts the model is automatically added to the immoral category. That is not to say all moral theories are equal, libertarian  principles if followed by everyone will most likely lead to a better society than the one we currently live in, but Stefan has fervently argued that consequences should be irrelevant in the assessment of moral theories. This leaves no real standard other than the one proposed by the philosopher himself/herself for measuring their success or failure. I would rather a world where we break every moral law and are all better off, than one where we all follow them and are worse off. To me, Morality is about determining that which results in the best outcome for man as an individual, and for man as a species.


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"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger


#29
Robert Rak

Robert Rak

    Aubergine Dream

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Actually yes, the scientific method and math are not objective. 

 

So your argument is that they are subjective? That math and science are just opinions rather than facts?


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To make a point of maximizing automatic functioning and minimizing awareness of one's life is to welcome death before its time.


#30
labmath2

labmath2
  • 273 posts

So your argument is that they are subjective? That math and science are just opinions rather than facts?

 

Are models opinions? No, but they are not facts either. I will not say someone speaking French is wrong and someone speaking English is right. They are two separate models of communication. I am sorry that i do not possess the oratory skills to communicate this any better if this is still not clear to you.


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"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger


#31
Robert Rak

Robert Rak

    Aubergine Dream

  • 1009 posts

Well if you are going to argue that math/science are not fact based and therefore objective, then I understand why you are having trouble with UPB/morality, but I'm not sure that I can help you. Like I said earlier it would be a good idea for you to go back to the basics and study epistemology before trying to tackle some of the more advanced topics like ethics. The videos I linked earlier by Stefan should help with this.


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To make a point of maximizing automatic functioning and minimizing awareness of one's life is to welcome death before its time.


#32
Lians

Lians

  • 527 posts

Actually yes, the scientific method and math are not objective. They are models, they provide a framework for understanding the real world. In reality you never truly add two apples together, they are ways of conceptualizing and interacting with things in the real world. They are as real as language, which is also a model for conceptualizing thought and interacting with other people in the real world.

 

Mathematical and scientific models are imperfectly derived from reality because we choose to settle for simplified and idealized knowledge to overcome the staggering complexity of the real world. You claim this makes maths and science subjective and I'd like to point out the implications of this proposition.

 

Since all concepts are imperfectly derived from reality, it follows, according to what you said, that all human knowledge is subjective. This makes the term objective meaningless. In other words, you're presupposing the subjectivity of maths and science to argue that they are subjective. If you find this unsettling then I recommend you follow cynicist's advice and study the philosophical roots of ethics--metaphysics and epistemology--before you turn your attention to UPB. 


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#33
labmath2

labmath2
  • 273 posts

Well if you are going to argue that math/science are not fact based and therefore objective, then I understand why you are having trouble with UPB/morality, but I'm not sure that I can help you. Like I said earlier it would be a good idea for you to go back to the basics and study epistemology before trying to tackle some of the more advanced topics like ethics. The videos I linked earlier by Stefan should help with this.

 

A better way to to say it is math and scientific method are analytical tools or methods. It is a way for us to assess others work by all following one way of solving problems. They are not facts, but they are meant to provide a foundation for comparing and contrasting works. It is similar to language in that language also provides a foundation for communication and thought in a way that is common to a large population. Some languages have become less popular or extinct, but we can still communicate since we have different methods of communication that replaced those old ones. They are objective in the sense that they require common understanding of the rules and application for them to be of any real use, but are also subjective in that they are not facts.


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"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger


#34
square4

square4
  • 113 posts
Are you sure you've read it? Half of the book is devoted to logical arguments proving that you can't....

What the UPB theory shows is that some preferences, when generalized in a certain way, cannot be universalized. If UPB wants to be a valid ethical theory, then aspects that are ethically relevant should not be generalized away.

 

UPB doesn't evaluate categorical imperatives; It has to do with hypothetical ones. (morality is optional)

You imply morality is optional in two senses:

1) it is possible to violate the moral imperative. I agree, it is not physical law.

2) the moral imperative applies only if you want to be good. I disagree. It are especially those that do not want to be good, that need the moral imperative.

 

Like I said above, it deals with the hypothetical imperatives. In regards to morality that means having the goal of being good.

I see the same problem of circularity here (morality ~= virtue ~= goodness).

 

If the implication of UPB is not intended to be a moral obligation (an "ought"), what would you say are its implications for our personal life or for society?

[facts] --derivation--> [UPB content] --application?--> [our life]

So this question is not about the derivation or content of UPB, but about its application.


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#35
labmath2

labmath2
  • 273 posts

 

I see the same problem of circularity here (morality ~= virtue ~= goodness).

 

If the implication of UPB is not intended to be a moral obligation (an "ought"), what would you say are its implications for our personal life or for society?

[facts] --derivation--> [UPB content] --application?--> [our life]

So this question is not about the derivation or content of UPB, but about its application.

 

 

Isn't the focus on application a consequentialist approach? If its is, then would you agree that morality is that which results in the best outcome for man as an individual, and for man as a species?


  • 0

"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger






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